2 killed after World War II-era plane crashes near California airport: Officials

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(CHINO, Calif.) -- Two people who were aboard a World War II historical plane were killed Saturday when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Chino Airport in Southern California, firefighters said.

The private Lockheed L12 aircraft was off the runway approximately 200 yards away in a grass field, when firefighters arrived around 12:35 p.m., Bryan Turner, the battalion chief with Chino Valley Fire District, told ABC News.

Turner said it's too early to tell why the plane crashed, but there was fire involved.

On Monday, Yanks Air Museum in Chino, California, confirmed the identities of the individuals killed and said it was cooperating with authorities in the investigation of the incident.

Yanks Chief Operating Officer Frank Wright and pilot-in-command Michael “Mike” Gilles were killed in the crash, according to the museum.

"Mike flew as captain on the Lockheed 12 in the left seat on the day of the incident," the museum said, noting, "The airplane was not required to have two rated pilots on board, but Frank assisted in flying procedures and operations from the right seat."

In a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday, Yanks Air Museum confirmed that one of its aircraft was involved in the fatal crash.

"At this time we are working with local authorities and the FAA," the statement said. "Yanks Air Museum will be closed until further notice as our family deals with this tragedy, and we appreciate your patience and respect for our privacy as we navigate through this difficult time."

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash, both agencies said.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at 2:04AM by Samira Said, Cory Peeler, and Ivan Pereira Permalink